Midnight Pub

Adding Friction


I've got a compulsive nature, and so spartan abolishment of junk food (both mental and physical) is typically the only solution that helps me stay healthy long-term. Hence no smartphone, no booze in the house, and no computer powerful enough to run a video game newer than, say, Hexen. Still, the black pit of the internet beckons, and I was spending far too much time there.

I was willing to live without a personal computer entirely, just using an OS on a thumb drive at the local library when necessary, but the security issues are manifold. It's just not practical.

I recently discovered that I can block websites by using my /etc/hosts file to make them resolve to Doing this for just Reddit and Youtube has dropped my per-diem computer usage from more than 3 hours to right around half an hour. It's vaguely miraculous.

I tried doing this with my smartphone 4-5 years ago using parental controls, and it didn't work at all. I would just go in and re-enable access to the browser/app. I don't know why this is different--it's the work of seconds to fire up vim and change the file again...and yet I don't.

Perhaps I have changed, my synapses rewired to something that was ready to give up the stimulus those websites provided.

Or maybe all that is needed is a particular kind of friction.


Great post. Can certainly relate to friction being a great way to help break habits. It forces a little mental calculation each time: "is it worth it"? Sometimes it really isn't. And the things that are feel much better for it. Nice work ~whiskeyding.



I think i am somewhere in your corner regarding the ever seductive effects of medial junkfood ;-)

My solution - not mentioning my current "fasting period" - was to migrate to Plan9 (or more precise: 9Front). I CAN do every productive thing i need (but need to get creative in doing so sometimes), even things like youtube DO work, but everything requires a bit of tinkering and every single line of code in this system seems to be designed to keep the addictive sides of the web / modern computing at bay.